More than 5 million fewer passengers took a ride on a South Coast train in 2020 as COVID hit.
And the latest figures show commuter numbers are still much lower than a year earlier.
According to Opal card data, passenger numbers were cut in half in 2020 compared to the previous year.
In 2019, more than 10 million people rode on the South Coast line while in 2020 that figure fell to just under 5 million - a drop of 51 per cent.
The worst month-on-month drop occurred in April, where numbers fell from 867,366 trips to just 115,590 - a drop of 86 per cent.
May was almost as bad with a drop of 78 per cent - from 943,504 to 206,092.
This coincided with the lockdowns due to COVID and an increase in people working from home.
However, the passenger numbers haven't bounced back as the area comes out of COVID-19.
This is partially due to the capacity restrictions placed on rail services.
In the latter half of 2020, the month-on-month falls were in the order of 50 per cent.
That figure has carried through into the early months of 2021.
Warilla commuter Nathan Harris had been catching the train to Sydney throughout COVID.
He said passenger numbers had increased in recent months, meaning he now missed "the quietness" of the empty carriages of 2020.
Mr Harris said it was still the evening peak hour rush that was the worst part of the day.
"Getting on at Town Hall or Central in the afternoon is a nightmare," Mr Harris said.
"It's just been in the afternoon. It's the Hurstville and Sutherland commuters getting on and taking up most of the seats."
A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said the falls on the South Coast line were not unusual.
"Over the course of 2020 all Sydney suburban and intercity lines declined by similar amounts and total train patronage was down 49 per cent so the decline on the South Coast line was in proportion to the decline across the network," the spokeswoman said.
The crash in passenger figures will have flowed through into ticket revenue, though the spokeswoman did not put a dollar figure on the losses.
Also, even at the usual passenger numbers, the government still subsidises a large part of the cost of public transport.
"Whilst there has been a reduction in farebox revenue from public transport, the NSW government will continue to support and subsidise the network for all customers across NSW," the spokeswoman said.
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